Pubdate: Mon, 12 Aug 2002
Source: Nelson Daily News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2002 Nelson Daily News
Author: Alan Randell


To the Editor:

Re: Pot smoker faces deportation, Jul. 30

If an otherwise benign government passes an unjust law that results in the 
imprisonment of thousands of innocent citizens, how should a free press 
report the deluge of police raids, court cases and by-laws that flows from 
the imposition of said unjust law?

Consider our drug laws.  The most popular harmful drugs are allowed, but 
the state bans the less popular harmful drugs "because they are harmful". 
There's simply no escaping the fact that our drug laws aware implemented 
for one reason and one reason only: to distract attention away from 
government failures in other areas and to provide a measure of vicarious 
pleasure to the majority by persecuting an innocent minority.  Hitler 
showed the way, and governments that world over are goose-stepping along 
behind him.

The drug laws are unjust, that much is clear.  What is not so clear is how 
the media should report the fallout from these shameful laws.

There are, it seems to me, two ways to go.  You can either report the 
tragic consequences as unadorned news stories as if imprisoning people for 
the drugs they use is acceptable, or you can indicate in your stories that 
innocent people may be involved and that many oppose these laws for this or 
that reason.

You, like everyone else in the media business, appear to have chosen the 
straight, "objective" news approach which does not allow the victims' 
voices to be heard, an approach that, after a thousand repetitions, tends 
to persuade your readers that the drug users and dealers "brought it upon 
themselves" and that they are bad people.  I don't think it would be an 
exaggeration to describe this type of reporting as hate propaganda.  You 
are doing the government's bidding without, as Hitler's media was, being 
coerced to.

May I suggest you consider amending your approach to one that allows your 
readers hear not only the voices of those who oppose these laws, but those 
of the victims too.

Was there ever a greater gift to the modern nation state to help it ride 
roughshod over the rights of its citizens than the mass media?  I think 
not. Once you have the media behind you, you really can fool (nearly) all 
the people, all of the time.

Alan  Randell
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